The New Explorers: Discovering History and Herself Through Technology

America needs to separate lore and memory from the true journey of becoming American. An Academy of the Sacred Heart high school student is developing a process that will reveal the hidden story of immigration.

At Academy of the Sacred Heart, we encourage our students to invest their talents in academic pursuits that promote the common good. In our Upper School, we subscribe to an interdisciplinary approach – combining subjects around common themes to solve a problem. Students learn best when they take the lead, exploring their own gripping questions. We encourage students to craft and explore using the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Over their four years in the Upper School, young women learn to embrace wise freedom, be nimble, and develop agency.

A rising senior, Lena Armijo, Sacred Heart Class of 2024, is undertaking an IDM project that combines her interest in history and computer science by designing an immigration history mobile app. It all started with a compelling question: How can technology connect descendants of immigrants to the hidden stories of migration? This question reflects Lena’s interest in learning more about her Italian ancestors. Throughout her fieldwork this summer, Lena will develop supporting questions, which will, in turn, inform her hands-on work. Lena will be querying public databases curated by federal, state, and local governments.

She will be making evidence-based inferences, deciphering handwritten records, and contextualizing life events such as new births, job losses, and unexpected challenges such as military deployment and court cases. In short, she will be a detective uncovering the clues of a not-so-recent past. She will be separating lore and memory from the true journey of becoming American.

Here is how Lena has described her project: “Growing up, I had always heard stories of how my Italian family immigrated to America. My Nonna’s family came over in 1965 to build a better life for themselves. A couple of years later, my Nonno’s family followed in their footsteps. It has always inspired me how they left everything they knew behind and came to start anew in America. My family represents some of the most important people in my life. Combined with my passion for history and computer science, I came up with the idea to create an app that will allow people to trace their true immigration history in America.”

After nearly two centuries of educating young women, our dedication to providing a Catholic, Sacred Heart education has a proven record of nurturing a humane and just worldview for students who enrich their communities around the globe. Here in Michigan, we take pride in being the oldest, thriving independent school in the state. Since 1851, the strength of a Sacred Heart education lies in the deep regard for students’ whole selves – spiritual, intellectual, and emotional. We fulfill this mission for young women of all faiths because we understand Catholic to mean a commitment to peace and justice for all.

Lena’s project is a testament to the continuing relevance of this humanitarian ideal. The knowledge and appreciation of our shared immigration histories will inspire this generation to choose faith over fear and love over hate. At Sacred Heart, graduates grow in confidence, self-awareness, and integrity to transform the world.

Learn more about Academy of the Sacred Heart at


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